The Republic of Ireland will be guaranteed a play-off to earn a place at Euro 2012 if they win next month's qualifiers against Andorra and Armenia.
Armenia's shock 4-0 win over Slovakia on Tuesday was a further boost for the Republic after Giovanni Trapattoni's side had earned a 0-0 draw in Moscow.
The Republic face minnows Andorra away on 7 October before facing Armenia in Dublin four days later.
However, Armenia have now also moved into the frame for qualification.
Russia lead the Group on 17 points - two ahead of the Republic with Armenia and Slovakia a further point off the pace.
The next round of games on 7 October sees Armenia hosting Macedonia, Slovakia at home to Russia with the Republic playing in Andorra.
Four days later, the group concludes with the Republic's home game against Armenia, Russia hosting Andorra and Slovakia travelling to Macedonia.
Two remaining Republic wins would be enough to win the group if Russia lose in Slovakia.
Armenia scored all their goals in the second half in Tuesday's win in Zilina.
Yura Movsisyan put Armenia ahead in the 57th minute with Henrik Mkhitaryan (70), Gevorg Ghazaryan (80) and Artur Sarkisov (90) adding the further goals.